Interview: Della Reese of “Me Again”

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm

It was an honor to speak with show business legend Della Reese, who stars in the the heartwarming film, Me Again, the story of an unhappy minister who gets to find out what it is like to be someone else, and learns to appreciate being himself.  Earlier I spoke to Ali Landry, who plays the minister’s wife.

How did you come to this project?

The script was submitted to me and it gave me a chance to be involved with something I espouse.  It’s done in movie form but we’re all trying to regain ourselves and prove who we really are.  That’s how you get to know who you are by identifying who you are not.

Why do stories touch us so deeply?

The Bible is an allegory. The stories say to us, “These things have happened before” and “With the proper understanding of your relationship with God, you can handle anything.”  The Bible is my directions, a how-to book for me.  Depends what valley I’m in or what mountain I’m on.  There’s healing in the Bible.  You have to find the one that speaks to you.  The lady who touched the hem of his garment knew she did not want to be what she was.  The man was sitting by the pool and could not get in the healing water.  The nice thing about a direction book is there’s different directions for different people and everyone can find what he needs.

What is your character’s role in the film?

She is giving him love and understanding.  She is the bridge over troubled water to him.  She understands him and she wants what is best for him.

You have succeeded in every aspect of show business.  When your fans come up to greet you, what do most of them talk about first?

All of them!  People come to bring me love and I am receptive to them.  It’s really a love affair between my audience and I.

In a way, you are a performer as a member of the clergy, too.  Is that a different way of reaching people with the same message? 

If you’re open to being reached, anything can reach you.  There’s a little girl at the church and her mother has been taking classes and straightening out her life.  But one day she was nervous and too involved and her six-year-old daughter said, “Why don’t you stop and sing something and you’ll feel better?”  And she did.  If you are open, the message will come.  God supplies  everything you need if you will be consciously aware of him.  You can learn to do it.

The clergy’s job is to tell the truth.  God doesn’t need fixing.  He isn’t broken.  We need to speak it in a way that people understand it so they can apply it and benefit from it.  It’s not what I want them to get.  Whatever part you need it is there for you.

You began as a singer.  Why is music so important in church?

Music is important to our  lives – the way we can speak the things we can’t speak without the music.  Some people can’t say they’re in love but there’s a song that says it, some happiness you want to share, some music that’s good for you.  You can just hum or stnap your fingers.  Music is a great force in our lives.  The first songs I sang were part of the church service.  And I love all of the people who write music that says something.  I’m not too much for only the rhythm and repetitiousness, I’m a lyricist, so I like lyrics.  It all comes down to telling the story.

 

 

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Interview: Ali Landry of ‘Me Again’

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 8:00 am

"Me Again" starring Ali Landry

Have you ever wished you had taken another path?  We all wonder what our lives would be like if we had made a different choice and movies like “Me Myself I,” “The Family Man,” and “Sliding Doors” feature characters who get a chance to see the road not taken.  The latest film to explore this idea is “Me Again,” a funny and inspiring film about a middle-aged pastor (David A.R. White) who gets a chance to see himself in several different lives, from a wealthy businessman to a model and even a fish.

I spoke to the beautiful Ali Landry about her role as the preacher’s estranged wife and her faith as a sustaining force in her life and her relationships.

Why was this film something you wanted to do?

Me Again is a great little family film and very witty and funny and I liked the topic it tackled.

Is it important to you that your work be family-friendly?

Yes.  There are a lot of things I consider when I look at a project, but the most important is the takeaway for the audience.  Does it inspire them to take action?  What is the message behind it?

What is the takeaway for this film?

They say it several times in the film — happiness is a choice and before you start looking outside the place you are in, think about the blessings that you do have in your life.  My husband and I talk about it all the time.  We don’t understand how a marriage can survive without having God in it.  All you have to do is reach out and He will answer.  He is there for you.

What do you and your husband do to keep God present in your marriage?

We go to church of course.  We have a Bible study we go to — that’s where we met.  We surround ourselves with like-minded friends.  And we like to do business where everyone is on the same page.  My husband knows that his producing partners will hold him accountable and have his back in every situation.

Tell me a little about your faith journey.

I grew up Catholic and I was practicing to a certain extent but I was not walking the walk.  I was going through my life with blinders on.  I am very clear on the changing moment.  Before I met my husband I was in a relationship for six years.  There was infidelity and it really caused me to re-evaluate and change my entire life.  That was the moment I began seeking out God and needed Him to help me put one foot in front of the other.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I didn’t have a favorite verse at the time when I was seeking God but I would pray before opening the Bible and ask a question and the passage I would read would give me a wave of peace and I always thought, “My questions were answered.”

How do you balance your home and work life?

That is the big question.  Every day I try to figure it out.  I go into every day with the intention of being the best I can be for my husband, for my children, for my work, for my friends.  But I try to give myself a break.  As a mom there’s the overwhelming guilt you always have about not doing enough but the next day is a new day and I will start fresh and try again.

Do you, like the character in the movie, sometimes wish you could see what your life would be if you took another path?

I don’t even go there.  I honestly feel like in that situation I told you about I heard God’s voice more clearly than I ever had in my life.  That’s where I was seeking Him out the most.  Even with the choices I’ve made since then I’ve felt I was swimming against the tide and out on my own.  I had a lot of pushback from my agents and managers when I gave them limitations on what I would and would not do.  But it gave me strength and I know I am doing exactly what I need to be doing in my life.  Any time I see a glimmer of “what if” or “I wish,” it’s about switching the gears in your mind.  I know I am where I am supposed to be and I’ve never been so happy and content.  That’s the difference in having the Lord in your life.  It keeps you in check.

Is it difficult to be a person of faith in show business?

Absolutely!  I have to say no to a lot of projects.  Thank goodness my husband and I are on the exact same page and he encourages me.  I was working working working for ten years with no breaks.  As soon as I took a stand, everything stopped and that was shocking.  But he encouraged me to take on my own projects and and I am working very hard and very excited and happy.

Tell me about your newest television project.

It’s called “Hollywood Girls Night.”  It was originally “Hollywood Moms Night.”   Alison Sweeney and I started it about 18 months ago.  We would invite our friends, other girls in the business and celebrity moms once a month, pot luck at each others’ homes, to be a support system for each other.  On television you see women so many times tearing each other apart.  One of my friends is actually on one of those shows and they pull her into meetings and say, “There’s not enough drama, you need to confront each other!”  We wanted to do something where we just showed up for each other, a support system both professionally and in our home lives.  People really responded to that and said they wanted to start their own groups.  So we decided to create a television show, and it premieres on March 5.  And I have another project called Spokesmoms, where every mom is a spokesmom, giving moms that really strong voice about the products they love.

 

 

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